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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, Just looking for information on bleeding tuna and came acoss this web page. Looking After Tuna Check out this link. Awsome tutorial. Seems to me like alot of work.
Do you really need to be that thurough? Dose it really make that much of a difference?
I would like to here some opinions.
Thank you.
 

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I dont necessarily spike each tuna.. I might jab it in the brain with my pliers a few times, yank out some of the gills and dunk it in a brine slush to chill and bleed out quickly. Then, after fish has chilled..it is then put on ice. I Agree on not using water and also keeping the meat dry. pat down with paper towels.. Many folks have their own method and are very particular about they way a tuna is treated..
 

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I think the bleeding and pithing of the tuna is very good.

In Texas, the deckhands prefer to hit a "homerun" off the tuna's head, letting it quiver in a seizure while it bleeds from the cuts behind the pectoral fins. I think they consider this a sport, but in all honesty, it is brutal but pretty "humane". The pithing or "battered head" approach keeps the fish from beating itself against the boat. In San Diego, I think they put a screwdriver through the brain, and that works very well. I guess you can do both, especially if you were good at baseball. Cut the gill plate and behind the pecs and you are done. The deck gets bloody. If you really want to bleed it, hold it up on its head for awhile.

I agree, keep freshwater off the flesh. Chill as rapidly as possible.

I must say the attached tuna was bled well.
 

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This is from the guys at Karen Lynne Charters (Gloucester).

Dressing and Handling of Medium and Large Blue Fin Tuna Captain Jim Ansara, Karen Lynn Charters

I have seen a number of questions on this site and been asked in person and on the radio by others about how to best kill, care, and handle Blue Fin Tuna. I thought it might be helpful to some of the newer BFT fisherman on this site to post how we try to do it. I think it is great that so many people who are newer to BFT fishing are landing fish. I can tell you that for me, it was a long and at times discouraging learning curve in the Giant fishery. This is by no means the "only" or "correct" way, it is simply one method and the way we were taught in the commercial BFT fishery where the difference in caring for the catch in the first 30 minutes, can be worth thousands of dollars. I have try to modify this for the 50" to 65" fish most of us have been catching recreationally. I hope it is helpful.

Part 1. Killing and bleeding the fish
This sounds simple and obvious but how you kill a BFT greatly affects the quality of the meat. With fish that are in the 47"-73" size range, we will usually bring them to the boat and leader and gaff them in the head area. I know it can be scary but try to wait and don't try too gaff them to early and then get them swimming along the boat at 1-2 knot speed. They will often lie on their sides, exhausted and present a very easy target. Immediately after gaffing the fish we will slip a tail rope over the tail using a second gaff to hold or pick up the tail.

We will then cut the leader or remove the hook, and sink a head hook through the lower jaw and starting swimming the fish from it's head behind the boat, slowly 2-3 knots, secured by the head hook and keeping the tail rope on the fish and cleated off, but not so tight that the fish can't swim somewhat naturally. We will try to swim the fish for 10-20 minutes and until it seems to have really come back to life and gets some of it's natural vibrant color back. Always Gaff through the head and never in the throat where the heart is located or it will bleed out while you are swiming it. We will then pull it back to the boat by the tail rope and bleed it out.

NOTE: We have found that on the 50"-60" fish that instead of using the rubber coated wire and carbiner tail ropes we use for giants, that a 3/8" nylon braid dockline with a spliced eye loop gives us a more secure grip on the smaller tail of these fish.

First we will pull the fish up high on the transom by it's tail rope and make a cut approximately 2" wide and 1" deep behind one or both pectoral fins which taps into major arteries. We used to also make a bleed cut on the tail but found it wasn't necessary and cut too deeply, makes real problems. Then towing the fish by it's tail, we will rake it's gills with a gaff or more preferably a harpoon iron while towing it. This should fairly quickly bleed out the fish. Once the blood flow slows down and the fish does not appear to have much movement, we haul it onto the deck by the tail rope and take some very quick pictures with the anglers then immediately start to dress it. Leaving the fish on the deck in the sun for even 15-20 minutes can really shorten the refrigerated shelf life of tuna steaks. High Core temperature of the fish is your enemy and you want to get it cooled down as quickly as possible.

Part 2. Dressing the fish
With the fish on the deck, we use a basic short handsaw (Stanley 15" FatMax, $16 @ Home Depot) to cut off the head of the fish. I would suggest that if you are new to this you do this in a few cuts versus just lopping the head off which could case you to lose good meat. See the drawing below. Next you want to carefully cut in a circle around the fishes anus so you can pull the main intestine out of the body and carefully cut it free. This allows you to remove from the head cavity, the stomach, organs, etc… in one shot. After you get all these parts out we wash out the cavity with a high volume, salt water wash down. You can also scrub the cavity with a stiff round boat brush with a 2' handle to get rid of any coagulated blood. Don't forget to cut open the stomach to see what the fish was feeding on before throwing it overboard. You can also remove fins, except one pectoral fin and the tail for easier handling.

Part 3. Icing and Storing the fish
We cram the body cavity with as much crushed ice as we, can carefully packing it in. Next we place the carcass in a bed of ice in a 4' iceytek cooler and pack it as tightly as we can with ice around it and fill the cooler. The heat from the fish will quickly melt out the ice around it, so packing the cooler with lots of ice to the brim helps to not have warm air pockets around the fish. We then put the cooler in our below deck fish hold or in our big, on deck ice box to help keep it cold and to keep the sun off of it. For those of you in smaller boats consider putting it under the T top. Another great alternative is an insulated bag. We recently bought a really good one through the First Light Anglers shop for Giants. I believe the bag is made by "Boone" and is a Monster Double Tuna Bag. If you want to know more, just call the First Light shop. We used the bag this past weekend when a scientist on the Karen Lynn was sampling other boat's catch for a study for the Large Pelagics lab and the bag was incredible in keeping ice and cooling down multiple fish before we gave them back.

This all may seem a bit obsessive and extreme, but try it once and you will be amazed at the quality of the fish you are grilling that night! After you have done this procedure a few times it is easy and goes very quickly; for our crew it is almost automatic.
 
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the brain spike is tough unless you have a screwdriver, coring tool or some other kind of spike. a knife doesnt work very well. i havent inserted the line into the spinal column....normally just kill and bleed.

i prefer bleeding with a small blade like a boxcutter.....going too deep will damage the heart and the heart wont pump the blood out like you want it to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dosen't all that blood attract sharks? I would think it risky to have a bleeding tuna in the water?
 

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i prefer bleeding with a small blade like a boxcutter.....going too deep will damage the heart and the heart wont pump the blood out like you want it to.

Bret,
You are so right. Knowing the anatomy is an important part. One cut to the heart and its over, you might as well box it up.

Big tunas take more work than little ones, but can leave a slick 1/4 mile long. We bleed those before removing them from the water.

For schoolie YFT I just cut the throat latch as far forward as I can, avoiding the heart area. That is usually good enough.

But you are right, a true tuna knife has a blade only 3/4" long in triangle shape.
 

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I usually do a poke behind the pec fin, rake the gills with the knife and let her bleed for a bit with the smaller fish. Then i put it in a saltwater brine, then i head and gut the thing, after like 30 mins in the slush ill pack em on ice.

Giants are a completely different animal and require swimming among other cardinal rules. You never roll the fish onto another side after it chooses a side to lay on, just rolling the fish on the deck damages the meat, especially if you roll over on the belly area.
 
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By the way, been looking into an easy way to spike the brain since a knife isn't all that easy most of the time. I think I'm going to get an Ice Pick and a rubber mallet. Should be cheap and effective, but i'll report back once I've used it.
 
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as long as you tell them its what you want to do, they are always fine with it :)

all the good boats bleed anyway. during a hot bite thats all i care to do...gotta get the line back in the water!
 

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Just use a little bailing wire and you can connect that to a the end of a gaff. You'll be able to stab and kill why they are still swimming.
 

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By the way, been looking into an easy way to spike the brain since a knife isn't all that easy most of the time. I think I'm going to get an Ice Pick and a rubber mallet. Should be cheap and effective, but i'll report back once I've used it.

Bret, when I was on the Shogun, they used a standard screwdriver which worked well. I am surprised accurate or Fisherman's haven't decided to make one out of billet aluminum, titanium, or magnesium alloy:rolleyes: .
 
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hahaha scott thats a good point

yeah i know a screwdriver would be fine, esp if you wanted to grind it down to be sharper. i think my screwdrivers are more expensive that this thing though :)

either way, whatever gets the job done. that tool above is neat
 

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I have had pretty good luck stabbing my pliers through the top of their head about 10 times..
Wacker that s a cool looking tool.. I would hate to fall down on that thing.. even in a sheath.. looks like it would do the trick..
 

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Wacker,
That's pretty neat looking device. It will be interesting to see what kind of sheath you come up with to hold it. Please post a picture of it when it's finished.

I've seen and have used a truck or car radio antenna ( the single piece ones) for running down the spine after cutting a hole in the head. It really paralyzes the tuna. If I remember correctly, the heart still was pumping the blood out but the tuna was motionless.
 

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There are all kinds of ideas. I am sure you can take a 2 inch wood nail and quickly hammer one in. The deckhands would surely like this approach. Unfortunately, I don't think they would stop once the nail is in.
 
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